Sotheby’s is to offer the oldest astrolabe from Moorish Spain.
The lot was produced in AD 1020, several years before the next recorded specimen.
The piece is valued at £300,000-500,000 ($373,230-622,050) ahead of a sale of art from the Islamic world on April 26.
Muslim astronomers led the world during the middle ages
The astrolabe is a navigation tool designed to show the position of stars and planets in the night sky. It was invented circa 220 BC in ancient Greece.
It was further developed during the Islamic Golden Age (8th to 13th century AD).
Muslim astronomers led the way during this period. Their work was a huge influence on the scientists of the European enlightenment (17th to the 19th century).
The lot bears the mark of Muhammad ibn al-Saffar, a well-known figure in the world of astronomy.
He was a master at building astrolabes and published a treatise on the subject that 17th century astronomer Johannes Kepler later used in developing his ground breaking Laws of Planetary Motion.
Only three of al-Saffar’s astrolabes are known to have survived to the present day, including the present example.
This is the only one left in private hands.
It’s almost entirely original with the exception of the rete (the disk on the front that indicates the position of the constellations) which was made in Turkey in the 16th or 17th century.
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